Lon Chaney plays the monstrous, dourly expressive Ziska, who gathers candidates for his eerie experiments by causing roadway accidents. While "The Man of a Thousand Faces" provides the creepiness, a nimble cast provides the comedy.
Once you're in the lair of vile Dr. Ziska, is there any way out? That's what Johnny Goodlittle - fresh from receiving his correspondence school detective's diploma and a starter kit containing a badge, handcuffs and a handgun - must figure out as he tries to rescue other captives and escape The Monster. Lon Chaney plays the monstrous, dourly expressive Ziska, who gathers candidates for his eerie experiments by causing roadway accidents. While "The Man of a Thousand Faces" provides the creepiness, a nimble cast and droll title cards provide the comedy of this dark-house tale. Roland West, whose The Bat Whispers would be cited by comic-book legend Bob Kane as an inspiration for the creation of a certain hooded crime fighter, directs.
It's hard to tell at times whether director Roland West was aiming for laughs or thrills in THE MONSTER, but this ambivalence is all part of the fun. Hallam Cooley and Johnny Arthur, two dumb clerks in Gertrude Olmstead's small-town general store, try to impress Olmstead by joining the sheriff's investigation of a rash of disappearances. The two heroes and heroine discover that a local lunatic asylum has been taken over by mad scientist Lon Chaney, who lures victims into his lair by arranging automobile accidents (it's the old mirror-on-the-highway trick again). Chaney straps poor Olmstead to the operating table, preparing to transform her "immortal soul" to the body of one of his monstrous creations, but Coolley and Arthur come to her rescue. THE MONSTER was based on a play by Crane Wilbur, with a dash of Poe's "Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether" tossed in.
Mad Doctor |
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